Saturday, December 16, 2017

Charge upgraded against suspect in Charlottesville rally killing

December 15, 2017 by  
Filed under Romance, Lust & Passion

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(CNN)The Dodge Challenger crept up, reversed, then accelerated toward the crowd. As he watched a surveillance video of that moment — the car barreling toward people protesting a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia last summer — Marcus Martin grew angry and cursed out loud.

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How The Last Jedi Became the Sexiest Star Wars Movie Yet

December 15, 2017 by  
Filed under Romance, Lust & Passion

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This article contains considerable spoilers for Star Wars: The Last Jedi. If you want to go into the film pure as the driven salt on the mining planet of Crait, you should wait until later to read this. Otherwise, join us for a closer look at the long-distance relationship scorching across the galaxy in Episode VIII.

There are a number of heart-stopping moments in The Last Jedi: Holdo’s last stand, the big Luke reveal, Chewie’s Porg-tastic snack. But having seen the film with a full audience three times, I can say no moment draws more audible gasps and applause than when Adam Driver’s Kylo Ren and Daisy Ridley’s Rey whirl around in brief slow-motion, stand back-to-back, and take on a room of their shared enemies together. It’s the sexiest moment in a franchise that already featured a young Han Solo answering Leia’s earnest “I love you” with a smoldering “I know.”

Two years ago, the Star Wars fans of Tumblr eagerly latched on to the Force Awakens electricity between Kylo and Rey, launching the #Reylo hashtag and inspiring an older generation of fans to caution against rooting for romance between two the leads lest they be, you know, related. But I hate to break it to you: the Tumblr fans were right. With Rey’s non-Skywalker lineage confirmed, she and Kylo burn up the screen in the franchise’s most intense relationship we can’t help but root for—even though we know we shouldn’t.

It’s tempting, at first, to deny the existence of any sexual tones in The Last Jedi. This is, after all, a franchise for kids. But sex, love, and bad or off-limits romances have always been written into the D.N.A. of Star Wars—albeit a little less lustily. It was Leia’s beauty, after all, that drew her brother (!), Luke, into his quest and inspired Han to stay. It was Anakin’s love and possessive desire for Padmé that caused him to fall. And who could forget the cheap thrills of Leia’s metal bikini?

But for all the romantic picnics between Padmé and Anakin and passionate stolen kisses of Han and Leia, nothing in the Star Wars franchise has ever had quite the dangerous spark as the late-night Force Skype sessions between lonely, misunderstood misfits Rey and Kylo. “You’re not alone,” they urgently confess to each other as the movie pushes them closer. Nothing is sexier than a forbidden romance—and, like any overprotective father figure, Luke should have known that busting up their call would only drive Rey directly into Kylo’s arms. (Note the precise moment in the film where she switches from calling him Kylo to calling him “Ben.”) The fact that Kylo is unwittingly being used as some kind of sexy emo honeypot so Snoke can lure Rey into his clutches is beside the point. These kids think the connection they have is special because they are special.

There’s plenty of sexual innuendo in The Last Jedi before Rey leaves Ahch-To to seek out her darker half. Kylo’s gleaming bare chest aside, you can go ahead and consult your friendly neighborhood Freudian to analyze the imagery of swinging lightsabers, the rivulets of water on Kylo’s black leather-gloved fist, or the dark, seaweed-slick cavern Rey finds herself irresistibly drawn into as she tries to grapple with the powerful thing that was woken inside her.

But with the exception of shirtless Kylo, this sexuality is kept relegated to subtext, as is appropriate for a franchise that hopes to lure very young, Porg-loving children into theaters. (We’re not going to count that sexless kiss between Finn and Rose—though maybe we should count whatever is happening between Holdo and Poe?) It’s a relief, in fact, that Rey’s costuming remains as practical as ever, with the only skin on display being a few inches of well-muscled shoulder and calves. It’s her power and strength that attracts Kylo to her.

The tension that is already ratcheted way up—thanks to a lush, close shot of Rey and Kylo’s bare, outstretched fingers—boils over during the fight in Snoke’s throne room. Move over, Christian Grey; this is the Red Room we’ve all been waiting for.

In addition to the massive crimson walls, Snoke’s chamber is kitted out with an elite guard in glossy, red, fetishistic armor. (They’re called Praetorians.) Rey and Kylo fight, swapping weapons and working together in perfect harmony, in the closest thing Star Wars has ever had to a sex scene. (The red imagery continues down on the mining planet of Crait, where the smooth, salty white surface occasionally erupts in geysers of scarlet earth.)

But just because Rey and Kylo have sexual tension, that doesn’t make this a good or a healthy romance. If she hadn’t shut him down so quickly and thoroughly when he begged for her to join him (“please”), we could have written several think pieces about what Twilight-esque bad messages The Last Jedi is sending young women. But when Kylo negs Rey, desperately telling her she’s nothing and nobody “but not to me,” our heroine doesn’t fall for it. (Hey, who hasn’t had a long-distance texting courtship, only to find the postcoital relationship a letdown? Someone should write a New Yorker story about it.)

Grabbing back her weapon with everything she has, Rey leaves Kylo—and only briefly, at the very end of the film, looks back before firmly shutting the door on this chapter. Kylo spends the rest of the film acting like a sulking, spurned lover, shrieking for the First Order to shoot Rey out of the sky after she dares to reject him. By giving Rey agency at all times with Kylo, The Last Jedi escapes some of the problematic messaging from The Force Awakens, where Kylo physically restrains her in one scene and whispers commands. In The Last Jedi, Rey casually and immediately deflects Kylo’s attempts to dominate her (“you will bring Skywalker to me”). He takes the loss there on the chin and doesn’t try it with her again. In fact, when he sees Snoke attempting a similar domination of Rey, Kylo is driven to kill his master.

At this point in the franchise, to root for a Kylo and Rey romance means rooting for her to save Ben Solo. Hoping for the redemption of a fallen member of the Skywalker family is a very familiar feeling to Star Wars fans. But Rey has an entire damn galaxy to save, and can’t expend all her energy trying to coddle the feelings of one injured man-child with daddy issues. She tried; she failed. I don’t think she should compromise herself to try again. “I’m looking forward to your space kiss,” Carrie Fisher told Ridley in 2015. “You’re going to have to have one. Every girl does.” But I’m not sure a space kiss is in the cards for our Rey.

That said, the sexual energy Ridley and Driver bring to this dynamic makes their inevitable showdown in the final chapter the most potentially thrilling one this franchise has to offer. The father-son stuff between Luke and Anakin was good, but a will they, won’t they (they won’t) with lightsabers is even better. It’s certainly more compelling than anything else the franchise has to offer, romance-wise. Rey’s relationship with Finn is sweet, but largely spark-less. Ditto Finn’s burgeoning relationship with Rose, which culminates in perhaps the most tepid smooch in Star Wars history. As we all know, the most chemistry Finn has is with his war buddy, Poe Dameron—but Oscar Isaac’s Last Jedi line about “Finn? Naked? Leaking?” is probably the closest thing Disney will ever give us to a gay romance in this Star Wars trilogy.

In the meantime, if it’s kicks you’re looking for in this kid-friendly film, you’ll have to find them in innuendo-laced lightsaber fights—and the best bad romance Star Wars has ever had.